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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

308                  MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

Catherine dei Medici, whose sinister cunning is contrasted with
the frank joyousness of the young king. Coligny too stands out,
and the massacre of St. Bartholomew as the climax is descriptively
fine. The construction is episodic, and the skein of the story is
tangled. Der Atem (1949) is a hectic attempt to write in the ultra-
expressionist style of the day.

The psychological and personal trend of Heinrich Mann's work
develops, like that of his brother, in the direction of the regener-
ation of society by democracy; he ended as a declared friend of the
Soviet Union. His political and social satire culminates in the trilogy
DasKaisemich (Der Untertan, 1914 - the officials; Die Armen, 1917
- the proletariat; DerKopf, 1925 - state policy), a scathing denun-
ciation of the Wilhelminian state which is all the more daring as
the first novel of the series was in course of publication when the
War broke out. There was a question of prosecution for fisc-mq/esti,
and presumably only the absorbing excitement of the War pre-
vented it; the obvious portraiture of notabilities alive or dead may
have been too illusive to ensure a conviction, but the mockery of
the All-Highest was in plain terms. In Der Untertan the career is
set forth of Diederich Hessling, the son of a factory-owner; he
shows sadistic tendencies at school, is hardened by his experiences
as a corps student, and has the usual affairs with women. He de-
velops a fanatical admiration of the Hohenzollerns, and for that
reason loathes the Socialists. In Die Armen Diederich is now
Generaldirektor Geheimer Kommerfcienrat Hessling. As a poli-
tical move he introduces profit-sharing, a system under which the
workers are worse off than they were before. The troubles and
struggles of the proletariat are depressing reading, and are not
helped by the melodramatic intrigue: Balrich, a young worker,
has a trump card in his hand, for he can prove financial villainy in
his employer's family; he learns Latin and Greek, and turns agi-
tator. The struggles against capitalists helped by dynasty and State
proves hopeless; Balrich gives up his books and returns to the life
of a suppressed worker; and the novel ends with the picture of
him and his fellow-workers marching away to the War along be-
flagged streets. In Der &?p/public life is described by one character
as a private affair - the personal struggle of Wilhelm H with Social
Democracy, As a roman a clefs the novel has historical interest
Secretary of State Lannas is understood to represent Bulow. There
is no need to give the key to Knack, the iron and steel magnate,